Borderlands is easily my favorite first-person shooter of all time, so it seems like a no-brainer to me that Gearbox make a sequel to the innovative RPG/FPS. Those who’ve been tuned in know that Gearbox has recently spoken out, saying that the development for Borderlands 2 is well under way. They’re being very vague about what this may mean, and rumors of a more massive multiplayer experience have been floating about. Either way, I’m absolutely stoked. For as little as I know, which is absolutely nothing, I know what I do want to see in the next title.
2K’s Gearbox Studio licensed the Unreal 3 Engine for Borderlands, and they did quite a great job at utilizing it. They’re cell-shaded graphics made for a fresh and unique graphical setting not often seen from the engine. It was beautiful, but it was far from perfect. The rendering distance was pathetic and many textures looked lazily done. Reused assets sure didn’t help any. If they poured all their love in their exceedingly brilliant design scheme, it could make for the most beautiful and unique Unreal 3 Engine game to date.
A part of the humor in Borderlands is that the planet of Pandora is nowhere you’d like to be. A barren wasteland, Pandora is nearly nothing but desert. It may have set the mood the way Gearbox hoped, but it may have done it too well. I really don’t want to be stranded in a desert for that long. The stagnant setting was ugly, unimaginative, and down-right boring. It probably contributed a great deal to the laziness of the graphics. Borderlands 2 should not only pick a more vibrant setting, but it should make sure that no one setting outstays its welcome.
Presentation-wise, my last issue is the story. This is most everyone’s biggest gripe with the game. It was nothing to write home about, and the ending was one of the most disappointing endings of all time. This is another example of the humor being too affecting. Just because the game is largely a comedic narrative set to a first-person shooter, it doesn’t mean it can’t be well-written. Gearbox should get in-touch with whoever wrote the script for Duke Nukem: Forever, because we all know how awesome that was.
Looting was easily my favorite part of the game, but I had everything down to a science by the end of my second playthrough. In all honesty, the game was terribly uneven. Anyone with the ability to think – or use a calculator – could see that Lilith with an SMG was an unstoppable combination. Using any other gun was completely unnecessary for PvM. On the other hand, Mordecai could do a one-hit kill in any PvP match with that overly-powered hawk of his. Some balance, and more distinctive character types/roles, would go a long way.
As stated, the loot is absolutely the best part. I’ve heard many conflicting numbers, and Gearbox doesn’t seem to really know how many, but there are tons of guns in Borderlands. Though, I think there could be ton more. The game basically creates the guns at random, but some more deliberate unique items and planning could make this game as loot-immersive as Diablo 2. Setting up trades – and not being able to respec – would add tons of replay value to what is already an amazing game.
Can these things happen? I sure hope so. Despite Gearbox’s recent failure in Duke Nukem – which really isn’t their fault – I believe in this studio. I’m super excited to see what they come up with. So here’s to hoping they’ve got something awesome to show at next year’s E3!